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How a copyright is different from a patent

Intellectual property comes in many different forms. A couple of weeks ago, we talked about patents, and today we are going to talk about copyrights. In many ways, patents and copyrights are similar. However, there is a distinct difference between the two.

A patent is granted by the government, and it grants you certain rights for your "novel" invention. A copyright, on the other hand, grants similar rights to you -- but it is not for a tangible invention. Instead, the copyright is for an "original work of authorship" that exists in a "fixed form." That "fixed form" means that it must be written down, or saved on a computer, or record on a device or tape.

As you can guess, this means that copyrights are reserved to a certain number of creations. These include songs, musical scores, literary works, dramatic works, choreography, pictures, sculptures and audiovisual works. Architectural work can even be covered under copyright laws.

However, it is important to note that if any of the aforementioned works are not recorded or written down, then they can't be copyrighted, nor are they protected by copyright laws. For example, if a musician created a song in his or her head and they have practiced it and know it well, but they never actually write it down or record it, then the song is not protected under copyright laws, nor are the lyrics. Similarly, common property works (such as a calendar) and phrases or titles that are a variation of written expressions are not protected under copyright.

Source: FindLaw, "What May be Covered by Copyrights?," Accessed Oct. 12, 2015

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